my dharma journey to mental healthiness


I felt a lightness inside yesterday that had nothing to do with getting up early to go to work for the sixth time in seven days. I didn’t even realize I was feeling this way until I got to the MAX statIon and was waiting for my train.

I was puzzled. I felt happy, a happiness that, as I said, came across as lightness. Very quickly I came up with an answer that I think is correct.

On Monday, I made a decision to set aside my goal of doing a mental health podcast. After nearly three years, it was still not a thing. I took that as a big, damn hint that the project needed a bit of reconsideration. I put away all my recording gear, I cancelled my Libsyn account, and I told myself to stop worrying about it. The thing is nothing but a struggle, so it’s not something I need to be beating myself up over.

Which is exactly what I was doing. This blog post may not win a Pulitzer, but it comes easily. The idea is there, and the words are flowing. Every time I thought about doing the podcast, I’d find myself at a new starting point, but that new start went nowhere. I had lots of ideas about what would make good topics for a mental health podcast, but no grasp of format or style or anything.

I did have a lot of doubts. I did know that me, talking into a mic for any amount of time would not be compelling listening. I thought about inviting guests – and I’m confident I could get enough to get started – but I would be asking them to assist me on a formless, aimless project that needed a lot more structure and vision than I’ve been able to come up with even after several years of attempts.

Instead, this is what I’m going to do: write. It’s what I do best, and it’s what I’ve refused to make my first priority. I go chasing after so many other ideas rather than just accepting that before I try anything else, I need to set in in my own mind that I am a writer. Anything else I do, whether it’s podcasting or videos or any other creative endeavor, will only appear as I develop myself as a writer.

Like many people who begin by writing blog posts no one else reads, I worry that calling myself a writer when no one is reading what I write. But the word is “writer”, and that only implies, not promises, readers. What’s missing in my life isn’t an audience; it’s the daily effort to write about the things that interest and concern me. It’s the habit of writing. It’s the skill development, the development of voice.

It’s the practice of being a writer so that in time I will have no choice but to believe, and then to know, that I am a writer.